LSE offers £400m in TMX sweetener

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The Independent Online

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) yesterday hit back at the rival bid for Canada's TMX group as it proposed handing shareholders a sweetener worth more than £400m to secure the deal. The LSE agreed a C$5bn (£3.5bn) merger with its counterpart in February but the process was thrown into disarray as a rival C$3.7bn cash-and-shares bid was tabled by the banking consortium Maple Group.

A spokeswoman for the LSE said: "A lot has happened since February, Maple has come in and stirred up the water," before adding: "This special dividend is a results of listening to shareholders."

Last night, the LSE proposed a special cash dividend for the shareholders of both companies, to be paid when the merger completes.

LSE investors will receive 84.1p per share, while their TMX counterparts will be handed C$4. The group said yesterday the special dividend would be worth £415.8m in total.

Chris Gibson Smith, the chairman of the LSE, said it was "great news for shareholders" and made the deal "even more compelling".

He added: "Shareholders will benefit from cash up front, plus the opportunity to participate in the ownership of an international exchange leader."

The special dividend will be paid by the companies from their existing cash and debt facilities. TMX reiterated its rejection of Maple Group's proposals yesterday and underlined its recommendation of the merger with the LSE.

Maple took its bid hostile earlier this month, but the LSE merger plan received a boost after the proxy adviser Glass Lewis backed it.

A spokeswoman for the LSE said: "It's not over till the fat lady sings, but we are confident."

TMX shareholders will vote on the merger at the end of the month, with a two-thirds majority needed.